BEIJING, Oct 6: World number one Victoria Azarenka set up a final date with Maria Sharapova at the China Open after the top two seeds enjoyed comprehensive victories in their semi-finals on Saturday.
Sharapova blew away home favourite Li Na 6-4, 6-0 before top seed Azarenka saw off the challenge from France’s Marion Bartoli 6-4, 6-2.
Sharapova served three double faults to concede an early break to go 1-3 down in the first set against the Chinese number one Li but sailed through once she found her groove.
Belarussian Azarenka, who withdrew before her quarter-final in Tokyo due to health issues, showed no signs of trouble as she powered past Bartoli.
Azarenka last won a title in March when she beat Sharapova in Indian Wells while the Russian is seeking her first trophy since winning the French Open in June.
On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic brushed aside Florian Mayer to set up a final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The world number two from Serbia furthered his aim of finishing the year top of the ATP rankings with a simple straight-sets victory, maintaining his unbeaten record at the Beijing tournament which stretches back three years. Top-seed Djokovic defeated the 29th-ranked Mayer of Germany 6-1, 6-4.
Tsonga marched into the final when Spain’s Feliciano Lopez retired during the second set of their match.
The world number seven thrashed Lopez 6-1 in the first set and was 4-1 up in the second when the left-handed Spaniard called it a day, citing an injury to his left wrist.
RAONIC STUNS MURRAY IN TOKYO TOKYO: US Open champion and London Olympic gold medallist Andy Murray was stunned by Milos Raonic 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-4) in the semi-finals of the Japan Open on Saturday, ending the Briton’s defence of his Tokyo title.
In the final set the Briton squandered a 4-1 lead and missed two match points in the 12th game before going down to the 21-year-old Canadian, who is seeded 6th and ranked 15th.
Raonic will meet Kei Nishikori in Sunday’s final after the local favourite became the first Japanese player to reach the final of the $1.28 million Tokyo event after thrashing Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 6-2, 6-2 in just 61 minutes.—Agencies